MUNICH – This year’s Spring Auction at Hermann Historica oHG will take place from April 28 to May 13 with the usual wide range of high quality precious objects from all eras and originating from all over the world. Approximately 6,000 lots from all specialist areas represented by the auction house are to come under the hammer – antiquities, arms and armour, works of art, hunting antiques, orders and collectibles from all fields of history and military history.
Fine antique and modern firearms
Once again, the antique firearms section includes pieces that collectors may only otherwise dream of, some of which boast a sensational rarity like a late Gothic stone cannon from the second half of the 15th century. Cast in one piece with a reinforced muzzle, the iron bombard is one of a small number of this type still in existence around the world today. Manufactured in either Nuremberg or Burgundy, it is offered for sale with a moderate limit of 8,000 euros. Produced approximately one hundred years later in Nuremberg is an extremely high quality wheellock puffer, entirely covered with inlays of bone engraved with a series of hunting scenes. On account of its impeccable condition, the firearm is expected to fetch a minimum of 18,000 euros. A number of other splendid examples bear testimony to the fine art of gunmaking, like a deluxe Austrian wheellock rifle, made circa 1650 by the ‘master of the animal-head scroll’, with a starting price of 12,500 euros; a heavy deluxe percussion target rifle, circa 1840, by Moritz of Leipzig, opening at 25,000 euros or a pair of deluxe percussion pistols, circa 1840/50, from Lebeda’s renowned workshop in Prague, valued at 7,500 euros.
The pice de resistance in the modern systems section is an outstanding collection of ‘Parabellum’ pistols. The collection unites 185 of the most interesting pistols from different periods and from all around the world. One showpiece is a much sought-after Borchardt C93. The rare self-loading pistol, one of a numbered series of only 1,100 that were manufactured by Loewe, comes complete with its matching walnut shoulder stock and carrying case. Produced in Germany circa 1895, the calibre 7.65 mm firearm is up for sale from 20,000 euros. Bids are invited from 8,000 euros for a rarity in almost untouched overall condition, a Parabellum Model 1900 Serbia, and from 6,000 euros for the Model 1902 German Army Test Danzig, one of 55 Parabellum pistols provided by the Prussian GPK (Rifle Examination Commission) in 1902 for troop experiments. A large number of matching holsters, various accessories and the corresponding technical literature round off this Spring Auction.
Once again, the antiquities section offers several veritable rarities among the early bronze helmets, including an extremely unusual Hellenistic helmet type, a Pilos helmet with its wide brim and offset brow element, dating from the 2nd to the early 1st century B.C. Standing 22 cm tall and tapering to a point, the skull of the helmet has perforations for the original leather straps; its shape is familiar from various contemporary depictions on coins and reliefs. A helmet of this type was last offered for sale in the art trade in 2004. By contrast, the appeal of this example lies not merely in its rarity but in its complete and unmodified state of preservation, which is reflected in the starting price of 23,000 euros. In no less outstanding condition and dating from the same period, during the Augustan Age, is a bronze Roman helmet of the Hagenau type. With its characteristic mushroom-shaped finial and the neck guard sloping slightly downwards, the hemispherical skull has been hammered from a single sheet; particularly striking is the excellent condition of the metal substance. Bids are invited from 25,000 euros for the helmet, which would grace even the most prestigious collection. Moreover, two antique sculptures are being offered for sale with a reserve of 20,000 euros each. While the Roman marble sculpture, dating from the first to second century A.D., is an exquisitely carved torso of a young boy, his hair falling in soft curls, the diminutive Hellenistic bronze sculpture, standing a mere 10.7 centimetres tall, is an extraordinarily expressive, even grotesque, representation of a crippled artiste with a hunchback and misshapen chest, his suffering clearly evident in his cadaverous countenance.
The auction again includes a variety of delightful, exquisitely worked objects that were crafted by gold and silversmiths in ancient times, like the jewellery fashioned in the legendary gold of Bactria. Open to bids from 10,000 euros, the distinctive set comprises a gold diadem and two earrings, inlaid with pearls and partly engraved gemstones, and dates from the time of the Kushan Empire, which held sway during the first three centuries A.D. Originating in the 15th to the 14th century B.C. are four embellished discs of sheet gold. Decorated with complex ornamentation and frequently interpreted as sun symbols, they are comparable to the ‘Moordorf solar disc’. The remarkably well preserved set of Bronze Age cult objects is listed at 7,500 euros.
Arms and armour, arts and crafts
According to tradition, the arms and armour catalogue opens with hunting antiques, works of art and rare wunderkammer objects. The highly talented Johannes Stradanus, born Jan van der Straet in Bruges in 1523, travelled to Italy for the first time in 1545 where he created some of the most magnificent hunting scenes of the Renaissance. He was commissioned by Cosimo I de’ Medici (1519 – 1574) to prepare a series of designs for hunting tapestries. These engravings subsequently formed the basis for his unique work, his “Venationes Ferarum”, a collection of 104 plates, 62 of which were coloured by hand, featuring a detailed representation of the hunt on a variety of animals, including exotic beasts and mythical creatures. Now, in the Spring Auction, an almost complete collection of this fabulous work, including the two title pages and 99 of the engravings, whose creator died in Florence in 1605, is to come under the hammer for 10,000 euros. Collectors will also be interested in a beautiful, Gothic leather-covered casket, which was crafted in Upper Austria during the 15th century and estimated at 3,500 euros, a pair of exceptionally rare, large pewter tankards of the boatswains’ guild in Rostock, dated 1793 and valued at 2,800 euros, as well as a heavy, red uniform cloak, known as a roquelaure, from the late 17th century, which may be acquired from 1,500 euros. The list continues with walking sticks made of rhinoceros horn from 350 euros, and an English drinking cup in the same material starting at 2,500 euros; finally, a collection of ornate thimbles and a large selection of locks and keys round off the lots in this section.
Once more, exceptional collectors’ items are among the antique arms and armour on offer. One highlight is a striking, Maximilian close helmet for a fluted suit of armour, which was forged in South Germany circa 1530. Wrought in one piece and still retaining the original leather lining, the skull features the characteristic, flat flutes of this type extending from front to back. The large, matching gorget, also fluted, slides on three lames and is embellished with turned and finely roped flanges. Documented for the collection of the retired Consul Hans C. Leiden in Cologne since 1934, this magnificent example of early armourer’s artistry will doubtless take pride of place in a new collection from 30,000 euros. Equally fascinating and opening at 12,000 euros is a South German tournament helmet, dating from 1580, that was probably manufactured in Augsburg. Forged in one piece with a tall, roped comb, the helmet is extremely heavy by reason of its function and is fitted with both a protective bevor and a pivoted visor. The marks of numerous sword blows are evidence that the early modern helmet actually proved its worth in tournaments. The impressive appearance of a German light cavalry armour, circa 1550/1570 will surely delight buyers. Sliding on multiple lames to ensure maximum mobility in the joints, the suit of armour is complete in all parts, including the heavy combat burgonet with its high roped comb and the rare adjustable nasal bar, and is now open to bids from 9,000 euros.
Equally attractive is the range of edged weapons on offer. In previous years, the highly successful auction sales of various swords from the Battle of Castillon (1453) attracted a great deal of attention. Bids are now invited from 15,000 euros for a sword of the same provenance, its wide, double-edged thrusting blade with a slight medial ridge and tapering evenly towards the point. To date, there have been documented finds of 80 medieval swords and three daggers at the site of Lidoire, in the vicinity of the battlefield at Castillon-la-Bataille. Also coming under the hammer, with a limit of 10,000 euros, is a stunning South German hand-and-half sword, only slightly more recent with its date of 1520, which boasts a copper-inlaid Passau wolf mark and a two-stage grip with original leather cover. The next two edged weapons were wrought with exquisite metal work at the dawn of the 17th century. A heavy Saxon sword with an engraved inscription and a gilt swept hilt may be acquired for 14,000 euros, while an Italian storta, lavishly inlaid with an engraved d?cor of silver tendrils and flowers, is estimated at 12,000 euros. The other types of arms also present international buyers with an array of inimitable collector’s items, like the German sports and hunting crossbow with its heavy, forged iron prod and distinctively bellied walnut tiller, adorned with richly engraved and blackened bone inlays. With a starting price of 12,000 euros, the decorative mascarons amidst interlaced strapwork and acanthus foliage attest to the superb workmanship of the late Renaissance.
Military history and historical objects
The military history and historical objects section is a veritable treasure trove of collectors’ items of great historical significance from all over the world. One such example from the turbulent history of Mexico during the 19th century is the silver laurel wreath designed as a symbol of the presidential dignity ofJos? de la Cruz Porfirio Diaz Mori (1830 – 1915), who ruled the country intermittently from 1876 until 1911. While his opponents adopted a silver laurel wreath during their term in office, Diaz insisted on a wreath that surpassed all others, decorated with Mexican symbols like the gilt eagle with the serpent and jewels in the Mexican national colours. The unique signet of power is offered for auction from 12,000 euros. By contrast, originating in south eastern Europe is a large archive with 56 documents relating to the 1897 Greco-Turkish War over Crete. Urgent correspondence and telegrams between the Greek government or the Navy Ministry in Athens and the Greek fleet accord a profound insight into the various motives, strategic planning and reporting system behind the scenes. Of extraordinary interest for scholars of Greek history, these documents are expected to fetch at least 7,500 euros.
Of German provenance, a magnificent Royal Bavarian presentation sabre, awarded for bravery, is particularly imposing; dating from the reign of Maximilian I Joseph (1806 – 1825), the sabre was produced in Solingen and is etched on both sides with gilt foliage and trophies against a blued background. The gilt brass knuckle-bow hilt is richly decorated in relief with a Medusa’s head and foliage, while the quillons is adorned with the profile of Maximilian I Joseph of Bavaria between laurel branches and the crowned Bavarian lion bearing a sword and escutcheon. Exceptionally high-quality insignia of this type were reserved for the rank of general. Undoubtedly of museum quality, the sabre is listed at 15,000 euros. Also for sale is a portfolio from the personal property of King Ludwig II of Bavaria (1845 – 1886), the fine reddish brown leather embossed with the characteristic crowned gold cipher “L”, which may be acquired from 3,000 euros and, an absolutely unique piece, an M 1915 field tunic for a Bavarian sergeant in the Ist Seebataillon, with a starting price of 4,000 euros.
An extremely appealing edged weapon stands out in particular among the diverse selection of Austrian objects. With its elaborately engraved, blued and gilt blade of triangular section, the presentation sword was a farewell gift for the commander of the k.u.k. Milit?r Fecht- und Turnlehrerinstitut, Oskar Schadek von Degenburg (1842 – 1926) on his retirement in 1895. The inscribed dedication thanks the third commander of the institute for his many years of service from 1882 until 1895. The sword was presented in a specially made case, lined in red velvet, together with a matching presentation fencing sabre. Today, the set is estimated at 8,000 euros.
As a testament to the auction house’s diverse range of lots, an object from recent British military history, imposing by virtue of its perfect, fascinating technical design, is being put up for auction this spring. The chromed ejection seat of a Vulcan, a four-engine strategic jet bomber deployed by the Royal Air Force during the 1950s, was produced by the British company, Martin-Baker. Since the foundation of the company in 1934, the aircraft manufacturer has carried out pioneering work in the development of life-saving ejection seat systems. Bidding for this Mark 3 series ejection seat will start at 5,200 euros; however, it is not merely the object’s expediency and functionality that will fascinate buyers. In combination with the opulent chrome, the extravagant form reveals a fascinating design object with a highly individual appearance, which can be effortlessly integrated as a modern interior design feature.
A number of famous names and unparalleled historical artefacts from their personal property usher in the parade of Russian military objects. An absolute rarity, the significant ceremonial sword for Russian officers of the Guards Infantry, with its blade from the reign of Catherine I (1684 – 1727) that lasted a mere two years, is expected to fetch a minimum of 25,000 euros. An M 1909 shashka for officers of the Russian dragoons is unusual by virtue of its unexpected, heavy, captured Japanese blade with gilt copper habaki, the obverse deeply carved with Japanese inscriptions. With an appliqu?d miniature of the Order of St. Anne, awarded for bravery, the extremely rare shashka has a limit of 14,500 euros.
Orders and Insignia
Once again, the Spring Auction 2015 holds phaleristic sensations in store. The estate of the Imperial Prussian Admiral Hermann Jacobsen, including a particularly rare Russian Order of St. Stanislaus 2nd Class with breast star, is to come under the hammer for 7,000 euros. Bids are invited from 5,000 euros for the Grand Cross with Swords of Baden’s Order of the Z?hringer Lion and, among the orders of Hesse-Kassel, the 1769 Order pour la Vertu Militaire, of museum quality and estimated at 10,000 euros, is sure to delight collectors. Only one other order cross in this condition is known to exist, namely in the State Hermitage Museum in Lenningrad. One of the highlights of the orders section is a set of the 1st Class with Swords of theOrder of St. Stanislaus from the Russian tsarist empire, circa 1910, worked in gold, silver and enamel, which is valued at 14,000 euros. Now open to bids from 12,000 euros is one of the highest German orders of bravery, the Commander’s Cross in the World War issue of the Karl Friedrich Military Merit Order – a rarity since a total of only ten such awards are documented during the World War.
All prices are net prices and are to be understood plus 23 percent surcharge.
All pictures: Copyright Hermann Historica oHG 2015